What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve as it passes through the wrist. This may be caused by sustained wrist flexion or gross gripping, vibration, or direct pressure over the carpal tunnel. Increased swelling in the carpal tunnel can also contribute to compression of the median nerve, and may be a factor in late stage pregnancy.
Symptoms are generally worse at night whilst sleeping but can occur with activities during the day such as driving, typing, talking on the phone etc. It results in numbness/pins and needles in the thumb, index, middle and half of the ring finger. Other symptoms are pain, swelling and stiffness in the hand.
People with severe symptoms may develop weakness in a small muscle of the thumb and complain of difficulty manoeuvring small objects.
How is carpal tunnel syndrome treated?
Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome involves night splinting with either a custom made thermoplastic splint or a pre-fabricated wrist brace. Your therapist will provide you with a splint that is appropriate for you.
Your therapist will also discuss appropriate activity modifications to avoid aggravating symptoms and potential workplace adjustments to improve ergonomics.
Gentle pain free exercises will be prescribed to maintain range of motion, glide the median nerve and reduce nerve irritability.
Your hand therapist will create a unique treatment plan to address and help relieve your current symptoms. The goal is always to both give you relief from any pain and discomfort, create optimal conditions for the tissues to recover, and then teach you how to put the right measures in place to reduce the likelihood of your condition recurring.